AirTalk for September 19, 2011

Fear not, problem-solving children of the Enlightenment, for we are the center of the universe

Mercer 21184

By David Deutsch

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World

In his new book “The Beginning of Infinity,” quantum physicist and philosopher David Deutsch seeks to understand the implications of our scientific explanations of the world. Deutsch, a pioneer in quantum computation, argues that explanations hold a fundamental value in the universe, or in his words, the “multiverse.” The book is about everything, says New York Times Book Critic David Albert, from art, science, philosophy to history, politics, bugs and the future. Deutsch argues that the stream of ever-improving explanations of the universe only makes our capacity to understand, control and achieve infinite. For eons, little changed on this planet, he says. Progress was a joke. But once we got the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution, our powers of inquiry and discovery became infinite. The Enlightenment revolutionized how people sought knowledge. The search for good explanations is the origin for all progress and the basic regulating principle of the Enlightenment. Deutsch argues that the extent of all possible knowledge is essentially unbounded (thus the title of the book), and he makes a case for this being an extremely optimistic state of affairs. How were we as humans able to come to rapid, open-ended discovery? How do we know which scientific theories are tenable or not? Do you think the Scientific Revolution has paved a limitless path for humans to seek knowledge? Get ready to wrap your brain around the book about everything.

Guest:

David Deutsch, Author of The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World; member of the Quantum Computation and Cryptography Research Group at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University


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